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Everyone loves a good BBQ. Pit Boss Grills are perfect for grilling anything from hot dogs to a nice juicy steak! Of course, modern wood pellet smokers are much more advanced than an old-school hot dog griller, and more intended for low-and-slow cooking most often associated with delicious barbecue.
Where Are Pit Boss Grills Made?
While the company that owns the Pit Boss is all-American and based in Scottsdale, Arizona, most of its products are manufactured in China. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, however, because the outdoor grill space is highly competitive, and the increased margins are necessary for survival in the pellet grill landscape. As an example of competitiveness,Traeger Grills are also made in China, which is notable because Traeger Grills makes some of the most technologically advanced grills available.
Also, keep in mind that while China gets a bad reputation for manufacturing low-quality trinkets, they also have some of the most state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities found anywhere in the world. SincePit Boss grills are aimed at the more affordable of the pellet grill marketplace, the lower manufacturing costs incurred in overseas manufacturing are the only means by which these pellet grills can be offered for their respective lower prices while still maintaining quality manufacturing.
Who Owns Pit Boss Grills?
Pit Boss Grills is owned by Dansons Inc. It is a multinational consumer goods firm that is owned and controlled by the Danson family. Dan Thiessen and his sons, Jeff, and Jordan launched the company in 1999 as a family business. It’s a clever and simple company name, but brand names are so often associated with family last names, that I will take the liberty to help you connect the simple dots: Dan + his Sons = Danson Inc.
Back in the late 1990s, Dan realized there was an awful lot of wasted energy source in the form of throw-away sawdust. And while the company started with horse and animal bedding, they soon expanded to focus on wood pellets, and wood pellet girls and smokers. it was the insight about wasted sawdust that led Danson, along with the rival brand led by Joe Traeger at the time, to transform into an early pioneer in the wood pellet market.
The Pit Boss grill family is part of a larger portfolio of award-winning, consumer-backed brands, that includes well-known names like Louisiana Grills, Country Smokers, A-maze-n Smokin’ Products, and now Surelock Security Co. Pit Boss is the flagship brand in the portfolio, but the Thiessen family has proven to have strong entrepreneurial instincts and continues to grow.
Danson is still a family-owned company, and Dan Thiessen, along with his two sons (Jeff Thiessen and Jordan Thiessen) are still intricately involved in all of the company’s operations. The company is focused on building a high-integrity culture that cultivates innovation and quality. It’s a combination of these factors that has led to Pit Boss becoming such a beloved brand in the grill and smoker category.
Joe Traeger Lends Expertise To Pit Boss Pellet Grills
For years, Traeger Grills was Pit Boss’ biggest competitor, so much so that you frequently find people googling terms such as ”Can you use Pit Boss pellets in a Traeger?” While each brand had its own cult-like following, the brands were nearly viewed synonymously to represent the emerging pellet grill industry. When someone says, “I am going to pull out my Pit Boss tonight,” you automatically know that they are going to smoke up some delicious meats.
Traeger Grills also grew successfully as the overall industry continued to grow, which eventually resulted in a sale of the Traeger Grills brand to Jeremy Andrus. The two brands competed for years, so you can imagine the surprise to the industry when Joe Traeger and his son Brian Traeger joined forces with Pit Boss in 2018. With decades of combined industry knowledge, Joe Traeger and Dan Thiessen set up to build the next age of pellet grills and smokers.
Pit Boss Grill Products
While wood pellet grills are at the heart of everything the company does, they have started to branch out more and more over time. Pit Boss now sells everything from a standard pellet grill, to vertical pellet smokers, to ceramic charcoal grills, and portable tabletop griddles. And they have every accessory you might need, too. If you purchase from the Pit Boss website, you can pick up a grill cover and cast iron cooking set bundled with your new pellet smoker.
Standard Wood Pellet Grills
Pit Boss has several series that offer quality options at multiple price points, including the Mahogany Series, the Sportsman Series, and the Navigator Series. While there are specific differences between the series, at a very high level, the Mahogany Series is the entry-level price point, the Sportsman Series falls into the mid-level price point, and the Navigator Series boasts the brand’s most premium features.
If you are going to invest the money into a new smoker, we recommend getting your money’s worth and considering either the Sportsman Series or the Navigator Series. Just to give you an idea of what you might expect, the largest Sportsman is the Pit Boss Sportsman 1100. In total, the Sportsman 1100 has a whopping 1600 inches of cooking space.
Many of the Pit Boss grills and smokers feature 8-in-1 cooking versatility, which means that you can use the units to grill, smoke, bake, roast, sear, char-grill, and BBQ. How exactly might that work? The grill features a very unique Flame Broiler lever that will enable you to switch between direct and indirect heat. The cooking chamber temperature ranges from 180 degrees to 500 degrees.
The grill also features a high-capacity pellet hopper, and a viewing window so you can see what is left in the automated hopper. Nearly all of the Pit Boss grills feature a digital controller that will help you dial in the perfect temperature range.
Considering all of this, it’s impressive that Pit Boss also has an industry-leading 5-year warranty.
Some of our favorite Pit Boss items are the pellet and gas combo grills, which allow for direct flame grilling on one side of the unit, while you focus on low and slow cooking to the other side of the unit. This honestly just makes too much sense to not be more prevalent in the grilling industry. Preparation work for using the smoker can be quite a time-consuming task, and the reality is that you might start smoking on a Friday night, and not be finished until Saturday.
Of course, you still are going to want to eat while your smoker is doing its thing. The combo grills solve this problem because you can grill up hamburgers, hot dogs, or even steaks, while you patiently wait for the hours of cooking on the smoker to pay off. The combo grill is currently one of the distinct advantages in comparing Pit Boss vs Traeger.
Can You Use Other Pellets In A Pit Boss Grill?
While Pit Boss recommends that you Pit Boss or Louisiana Grills brand pellets (their brands), there is no reason you can try other brands of pellets in your Pit Boss grill. Half the fun of cooking with a wood pellet grill is perfecting the perfect flavoring, which the wood pellets play an important part in determining. Under the Pit Boss name, the brand sells a classic blend, a hickory blend, a cherrywood blend, a whisky barrel blend, and more.
As you practice and become more proficient at using your smoker, there are two things you will quickly notice. The first is that as wood pellet grills become more prevalent, so too does the number of wood pellet brands. The second is that not all wood pellets are created equal. Some brands offer inferior quality and flavoring, so it is important to choose wisely.
And if you are feeling creative, you might try mixing wood pellets to create a more complex flavor. Here isone thing worth noting: some blends will work better with certain types of meats. For instance, if you are cooking seafood you might try the mesquite blend, but if you are cooking beef you might venture out to try the fruitwood blend. To us, combining the whiskey barrel blend with the hickory blend sounds pretty compelling.
Pit Boss Pellet Grill Quality
The general consensus is that Pit Boss smokers offer a great value among the growing number of options. They’ve been around longer than brands such as Grilla Grills, and have a more specific pellet smoker focus than brands like Camp Chef. In comparison to Traeger pellet grills, the Pit Boss grills may not have as many advanced features, but they still offer everything the average Joe might need, especially if you will infrequently use your smoker. Pit Boss grills come in a wide range of prices and options, but generally speaking, Pit Boss grills are quality-made grills, at an affordable price, but may not feature the high-end construction and features that some of the competitor pellet grill manufacturers claim.
Another question often asked is whether or not you can use a Pit Boss grill in the rain. People ask the same thing about whether you can use a Traeger in the rain. In part, this question seems like another way of asking whether the devices are made with quality construction, but there are other considerations to be aware of.
The question is asked enough, that Pit Boss has a direct answer on their FAQ page, and they clearly note that most Pit Boss Pellet grills have to be plugged in, to work as intended. As a result, you can use a Pit Boss in light rain, but water and electricity don’t mix (and can be exceedingly dangerous). At the end of the day, a Pit Boss grill is an electrical appliance, and it should be treated as such. You should ensure any connections are protected from rain or any other water, and you should routinely check the cord for potential damage.
Pit Boss designs and manufacturers quality products, but there are still questions from time to time regarding whether or not pellet grills are safe. In many ways, pellet grills are much safer because you don’t have to use accelerants to get the fire started. The fire is generally much less exposed than on a traditional grill where the fire may easily jump up through the grill grates. We recommend buying high-quality pellets to ensure you are not cooking with a dangerous fuel source, but generally speaking, pellet grills are often considered safer than traditional grills.
Pit Boss Pellet Grills & Pellet Smokers Reviewed
Pit Boss’s bread and butter are with smokers and side-by-side combination grills, but if you are looking for a traditional charcoal grill or gas grill, you may still want to compare Weber vs Char-Broil. Weber has particularly corned the charcoal grill market, with their signature kettle-shaped grill.
Still, Pit Boss continues to expand its line-up and increases its competitiveness across the outdoor cooking and grilling space. Heck, we wouldn’t be horribly surprised if they ventured into smokeless grilling fire pits like the Breeo fire pit that features a sear plate ring and attachable fir pit cooking grate, but they haven’t gone there yet.
In looking for a pellet grill review, we find it helpful to see what experienced grilling veterans really think of the product. Pritch cooks competitively, and he can use his advanced Pit Boss smoker in competition, but he wanted something to use at home that didn’t require as much babysitting. Pritch says the pellet smoker doesn’t quite reach the same smokey flavor that cooking with wood logs might provide, but it gets the job done all the same, and he thinks it’s a reasonable value.
Guy said he was originally going to spend $700 on a Traeger, but found a comparable Pit Boss for more than $200 cheaper, and while that seems like a particularly good steal, that seems pretty representative of these pellet grill companies. Our gut says that the Traeger probably had more advanced features, but not everyone needs the crazy advanced features. Sometimes cheaper and simpler is better.
Our Recommendations: The Ultimate In Outdoor Cooking
While Joe Traeger now works with Dansons and Pit Boss, he is no longer associated with the Traegers brand. Still, it is undeniable that the two brands are the industry leaders in the space. There are other brands out there, such a MAK Grills, Yoder Smokers, and Blaz’n Grill Works, but we haven’t found any compelling reason to recommend any of the pellet grill brands beyond Pit Boss and Traeger. And if you are deciding on a new pellet grill, the most common decision will come down to comparing Pit Boss vs Traeger.
And Pit Boss is a family-owned business, which makes them compelling to consider as a brand. Still, Traeger makes a quality smoker with leading technologies. Either brand will elevate your grilling experience.
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